The view from Igirisu:
Did I say last week’s episode was the hardest one to watch? I was wrong. It just got worse. We finally learn the full truth about Mayu’s background, and it’s exactly what we might have guessed: she was being abused. I would question the necessity to show what was happening to her in quite so much detail, but as I said before this series pulls no punches and thankfully the scene does cut before it gets too graphic. Nonetheless, its still horrible to watch. But the really heartbreaking moment is the reaction of Mayu’s adoptive mother. When Mayu finally plucks up the courage to say what the father has been up to, the mother hits her and blames her for taking her husband’s attentions away from her. The same thing happened in Sankarea, and is presumably a sad reflection of the reality of such horrendous situations.
Now, the obvious question to ask, and the one that must be asked, is what is the point of Elfen Lied showing us this stuff? Isn’t it supposed to be a series about Lucy and the other Diclonii? Mayu is just an ordinary human girl with depressingly human issues, so what’s the point of her inclusion. Well, a theme we are going to keep coming back to is how all the monsters in this series are actually the humans, but that aside Mayu plays an important role in this episode, thanks entirely to her background.
To understand that, we need to look at the other strand to this episode, with Kouta and Yuka’s frankly bizarre decision to take Nyu with them to school. That kind of thing is probably this series’ biggest failing, as if the writer knows where the pieces need to be on the board but doesn’t quite know how to get them there. So we have the silliness of that decision, which was never going to end well, coupled with the coincidence of the director’s son just happening to be the teacher. He tells a convincing story about Lucy being his amnesiac niece, and I do think Kouta could be forgiven for believing it. But here we come to the whole point of Mayu as a character, at least in terms of this episode: it takes a victim to see through his lies. Even from a distance, without ever meeting him, Mayu smells a rat, and it is her background that equips her for that job and motivates Kouta to go back.
But the dots are never entirely joined. If that were the trigger to get Kouta in the right place at the right time to save Nyu, then we would have a chain of events with a strong sense of purpose to every link in the chain, but instead the implication is that the director’s son probably carries out his Adam and Eve plan while Nyu sleeps (yuck), and then we get the scene at the end of the episode with Lucy waking up and freeing herself from the situation, exploding his head in the process.
“It’s all you deserve.”
It’s hard to argue with that. RP
The view from Amerika:
Elfen Lied opens its fifth episode with a beautiful shot viewed through a chain link fence. We see “Papa” mourning the loss of Nana. He says that regret is for those who can look back on the past but all he has “is shame”. His aide mumbles “oh, chief”. I am realizing right away that the “bad guys” may not be so bad after all; they clearly have some dimension. This would not be the first time a series has been written well enough to play with my understanding of right and wrong. We often attribute “good” and “bad” to “right” and “wrong” respectively but that isn’t necessarily the case, as this series may be illustrating. For instance, the first time we see Lucy she’s mentally detonating heads like water balloons. At a glance, wrong/bad can be attributed to this. But moments later, we see armed guards trying to kill her and we realize she’s been treated poorly and strapped to a wall, naked. Also wrong/bad. But it makes us wonder, was Lucy doing a bad thing trying to be free? Isn’t that wrong/good in the sense that it’s the wrong solution but for a just cause. When she turns into the innocent Nyu, that really drives the point home for, how can she be viewed as bad? Papa’s “shame” seems to imply that there’s a deeply human man behind the seemingly wrong/bad actions we’ve seen so far. This potentially may help explain why, for all the killing Lucy does, she’s not able to hurt him. I say “not able” but I don’t mean that it’s beyond her capability, but rather it may be beyond her desires. So what is his motivation? And is there going to be a clear example of wrong/bad?
For me, the answer is undoubtedly and it will come in this episode when we learn the history of Mayu. We’ve wondered why Mayu does not live with her family; she’s evidently just a young girl. She’s forced to eat leftover bread crusts. What’s her deal? We discover that when her mother introduced her to the new man of the house, Scummy McAssface, things went wrong. After giving her a creepy smile, we next see Scummy telling his step daughter to undress and kneel down on the floor so he can check her out. Mind you, she’s 13 at best when this is happening. When she tries to tell her mother, she’s smacked in the face and told she’s unwanted. If you wanted to know if there is real evil/wrong/bad in this series, you’ve just seen it. If there’s justice, Lucy will castrate Scummy and blind Momma Oblivious. That will make my day and for my money, illustrate good/right/perfect in one fell swoop because you don’t do crap like that to children!!!!!
The heartbreak continues though as Mayu starts walking into the sea, presumably to commit suicide when Wanta the dog catches her attention. He befriends her in all his cuteness and gives her hope. But when Wanta’s owner, Ms. High and Mighty, finds him, she takes him back leaving Mayu friendless, alone, and broken. At least until her friends Kouta, Lucy and Yuka arrive, and treat her to a birthday cake and rice. To appease my personal hunger for moral justice, Wanta finds a way to escape from Ms. High and Mighty, and gets back to Mayu which was the icing on the cake for me. Very right/good in my opinion!
We get a brief interlude from morality to have Yuka stepping on Kouta’s head to wake him up to go to school, which I find hilarious. (Morality only goes so far when comedy shows up!) But then at school, an overly enthusiastic Nyu catches the attention of Mr Kakuzawa, the teacher, who intends to take Nyu away. This is a heartbreaking scene as Nyu calls out that she wants to go with “Kouta”, as she finally says his name. Inside, I’m screaming: “don’t you leave her, fool!” What Kakuzawa’s actual intentions are is to rape Nyu and become a new Adam and Eve wiping out all of mankind in the process. (Ah, the morality lesson is back in session!) He pulls off his wig to reveal he is another Diclonius and as he’s speaking to her about his plans… his head explodes. (I’m going with good/right because I have a strong moral code. Have a field day with that because I’m fairly certain you will see the evident oxymoron of that statement!) I should point out that I was sitting down watching this, turned my head for a split second, and heard the noise, looked back and saw blood where a head had been and laughed, mostly because I couldn’t understand what happened. So I went back 3 seconds, and sure enough: talking, talking, explosion. OK, I really hadn’t entered a parallel universe after all. Lucy, Destroyer of Heads, is back. Will she stick around for episode 6 or will her sleeping alter-ego Nyu be back?
Let’s find out… ML